Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011


August is usually dubbed the political “silly season” with not much going on and the papers falling back on stories of MP’s stubbing their toes to fill their pages.
Not so this year, with economic woes, the euro zone threatening to collapse like a pack of cards, rioting in our streets and the final assault on Gaddafi’s desperate dictatorship in Libya. I usually like to read HG Well’s short history of the world every summer to get some perspective on the ebb and flow of human history but no time this year to even find the book in the attic let alone read it.
But in the midst of the macro events, local issues bring their own delights. I was pleased this week to open the Sparkwell Community Library a fine example of the Big Society in action. We all know that councils must cut their budgets after years of overspending and some communities are responding better than others. The good burghers of Sparkwell thrashed out a deal between the parish council, the church, and Devon County Council to open a new community library in part of the old village school, to be staffed entirely by volunteers from the village. This is very much a model of how some services and facilities will be provided in the future, because the public piggy bank is empty and not likely to be full again for many years. If we want something extra in our community, we will have to do it ourselves.
An example of another kind of community action is the rising up by the residents of Newnham Downs and Compass Heights in Plympton against the proposed new link to connect the new tungsten mine at Hemerdon. Most if not all of them bought their houses not knowing of the existence of this dormant proposal which relates to a planning permission granted on appeal in 1986! They have been hard done by and the new road will negatively impact their lives. We have a public meeting to discuss this matter on 2nd September.
As the state is rolled back – through financial necessity – the community must step forward to fill the void. We have to adjust our mindsets accordingly and our communities will be all the stronger for it. The internet and social networking can help us. We saw in the recent riots their effectiveness in gathering people together. These tools can also inform and gather people for positive purposes. 

posted by Gary @ 15:40